As you may already know, we are just now entering spring...finally! From the Daffodils to the Cherry and Dogwood trees, it's hard to look past their beauty. Bulbs of all kinds are sprouting from the ground after a very tough winter and the bees are now making their way in. Maples are producing seed pods and Oaks are beginning to produce new growth. This is an exceptional time of the year to start spotting where any foundational or ornamental trees have deadwood. If the rest of the branches are budding out and there are some that aren't, that's a pretty good indication that that limb is dead. It's important to look up and all around you this time of the year to see if you have any branches that could be a hazard to children, animals or your house. Even small branches can do a lot of damage when falling from such high altitudes. If you aren't sure what's going on up there, feel free to call us and have one of our experienced arborists come take a look and consult you on the best way to go about potential problems.
Although deadwood can be fairly easy to spot at times, frost crack and winter damage tend to be a little more difficult. This is due to the trees not showing the signs and symptoms until about 6 months after the last hard freeze. With all the freezing temperature we have had this past winter, you can expect to see vertical cracking on some trees where the water has frozen and expanded inside the trunk. You may also be seeing signs of winter desiccation right now on certain trees and shrubs. Winter desiccation is simply the water inside the leafy part of the plant freezing, expanding and causing damage to the leaves. This kind of thing does cause stress to the plant so a deep root fertilization, which we offer, would help out greatly. The better the health of the plant, the better a chance it has of survival and producing new leaves and dropping the old damaged ones.
At this particular point in time, we are treating trees/shrubs/ornamentals with a fungicide and insecticide as needed. Issues like shot hole fungus on laurels, to powdery mildew on camillas, dogwood anthracnose, and rust on indian hawthornes are all things we've been seeing lately. Have no fear though, caught early, these can all be treated with a fungicide. The crape myrtle bark scale, leaf miner, aphids, borer beetle, bagworms and webworms are all right around the corner as well. The sooner you use an insecticide for these insects the better, as many of them can reproduce very quickly and in high numbers, which is a recipe for disaster.
Lawns are all coming out of dormancy, with Fescue leading the race. Fescue is a cool season turf grass that does well in spring and fall, with it tolerating winter and summer conditions as long as they aren't too harsh. This is a very good choice for shady properties, as fescue is the best kind of turf grass to thrive with the least amount of light. Keep in mind though, that it's also the least traffic tolerant grass, and will start to thin out if you have dogs or children consistently running on it. We offer a spring and fall seeding program for fescue in which we use a core aerator to loosen the soil so it isn't as compacted and roots will easily grow. We add granular lime, which helps neutralize the pH of the soil, since most of the soil in this area are too acidic. We top that off with the fescue seed and starter fertilizer for a steady supply of nutrients when it needs it most. Zoysia has also now broken dormancy and the majority of our lawns are about 50% there at this point. It's very important at this stage to spread a slow release fertilizer so it can sustain it's vegetative growth. The thicker your lawn is, the better it will choke out weeds. The best way to prevent weeds is to maintain a thick turf. With that being said, as a preventative, we are also treating our lawns with a pre-emergent herbicide. This is crucial step to keeping weeds from sprouting, because it attacks the weak cell walls of sprouting weeds. It will also create a barrier in the soil for 3-6 months, which is key to keeping out pesky weeds like Poa Annua. One thing we have been seeing a lot of too, is hunting billbug activity. We use an insecticide on them, because if left untreated they can spread fast and devour a whole lawn. They feed on the blades of grass, and usually start attacking weaker spots in the lawn and continue to spread. This is just about the time you'll probably be getting out that old lawnmower or calling your local company to come cut your grass. Whether you're a do-it-yourself kind of person or you hire someone, it's important to bag the clippings on this first cut of the season. This is especially true to those of you who may have weeds that are flowering throughout your yard. If you just mulch the clippings, those flowers containing seeds will have a greater chance at germinating in the soil. Some seeds can stay dormant for the whole year and start germinating next year when the soil temperatures get warm enough so it's very important to bag your clippings if your lawn has flowering weeds. If that's the case, it will greatly help if you spray lysol or another kind of disinfectant on the blades of the mower to kill any viable seeds. Don't think that just because your mower is getting the job done, you don't need to concern yourself with the sharpness of the blade. If the blade becomes to dull over time it may start tearing the blades of grass instead of cutting them clean off. You can observe this if you pull a few blades from the ground and look at the top where they were cut. Torn grass blades have a bigger surface area of the wounds and in turn, invite more diseases. Keep in mind you want to aim for 2 1/2'' to 3'' when your lawn is cut for Zoysia and Bermuda. If you're dealing with Fescue, try to aim for 4''.
I hope I've provided some value for all of you, and from our Timberline family to yours...we hope you have an amazing Spring!